Words of Wisdom Pt. 2

A look back at some of the most important pieces of advice published in the pages of Marijuana Venture in 2018

Design

“(Designers are) not a requirement. We’re a decision people make to better differentiate their business, helping them identify their brand and who they want to be as a business.”

Megan Stone, High Road Design Studio owner

January 2018

“Even if a dispensary offers the best strains of marijuana, repeat business may lag if the design, packaging and branding elements aren’t appealing.”

Branyo Dvorak, Perimeter Architects & Construction principal

June 2018

“When you think about how limited cannabis shops are, where they can’t have radio or television ads, then how can you advertise? The last line of defense for advertising is your building.”

Jim Goodspeed, Goodspeed Architecture principal

May 2018

“Even within a big city, the design aesthetic can change between different neighborhoods. Customers respond well to businesses that speak to their community’s point of view and respect the characteristics of their neighborhood and location.”

Rachel Chichester, Urban Chalet senior designer

May 2018

“Architects don’t really understand what things cost and that’s the biggest dilemma to leaving a contractor out (of the planning phases). They can draw lots and lots of pretty things but if you’re trying to hit a budget then you’ll want to have that same conversation happening at the same time.”

Nathan Mendal, Your Green Contractor owner

January 2018

“Typically, the higher the price point and more luxurious of an experience you’re trying to create, then the less product you have jammed out onto the floor.”

DeAnna Radaj, DeAnna on Design owner

February 2018

“On your website, you have less than eight seconds to make a good impression, clearly communicate who you are and what you can do for a potential customer. This is the era of instant gratification, the age of Instagram, Netflix and DVRs. You need to make a positive and lasting impression before a customer blinks and is on to the next thing. “

Kari Brua, WYD Agency partner

November 2018

Efficiency

“In this industry, and probably in most industries, the most efficient man is the last man standing.”

Eli Bilton, Attis Trading Co. CEO

November 2018

“As we move forward, there is going to be a race to the bottom as far as price. The companies that are going to be successful are the ones that can compete in that environment.”

Jordan Waldrep, Vice Fund (USA Mutuals) portfolio manager

November 2018

“If you are planning to hold a license to cultivate for more than five years, purchase and install equipment that is durable, easy to maintain and reduces operating costs like energy.”

Nadia Sabeh, Dr. Greenhouse owner

April 2018

“When it comes to making necessary adjustments to the business operations, sometimes the biggest hurdles are all too human. We find that in many cases, it is the operation’s own cultivator holding the business back in a quest for low production costs.”

Rich Cardinal, Next Big Crop managing director

July 2018

Finances

“The Canadian cannabis market is about to have a ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment. And it’s going to be about January when the earnings reports need to come out.”

Jordan Waldrep, Vice Fund (USA Mutuals) portfolio manager

November 2018

“Raising investment money doesn’t happen quickly. You should plan on approximately three to six months to prepare all the documents and materials (the ‘offering’), identify potential investors, present the offering and close the deal(s) with one or more investors.”

David Kerr, Fifth Avenue Law attorney

March 2018

“Although its products may be top of the line, a company’s risk of going under starkly increases without top-of-the-line accounting, tax, finance, compliance, risk management, legal and other necessary practices to match.”

Andrew Hunzicker, Dope CFO managing partner

August 2018

“The IRS is not fooling around. It sees low hanging fruit when it comes to cannabis companies, and it is attacking and winning. You can fight back with the right ammunition and by staying compliant on all fronts. Don’t go cheap when it comes to your professionals because as we have seen in the last several court cases, lack of knowledge can literally put you out of business.”

Michael Moran, Cannabis Tax Solutions CEO

November 2018

“You must have low rent if you plan to grow indoors. I have no rent, because I own the building, and we are still not profitable. If I had to pay rent, we would have lost far more than $1.8 million. You can’t pay $1 per foot per month or more to lease a space for an indoor grow and expect to make money. It just doesn’t pencil.”

Cary Falk, THC Farms owner

July 2018

“With the exception of outdoor crops, private insurance is available for many other types of losses, including harvested cannabis, lost income and even cash. But even businesses with such policies will face challenges. Policies written by agents unfamiliar with the cannabis industry often contain boilerplate policy exclusions for losses involving ‘criminal activities’ or ‘controlled substances’ that may result in claims being denied.”

Anthony Phillips, attorney

January 2018

Legal

“Federal illegality already places cannabis businesses in an ethical conundrum. It is best to prepare for ethical dilemmas and to avoid creating standards mid-crisis.”

Lauren Rudick, Hiller PC attorney

October 2018

“Cannabis patents are being issued right now. And it won’t be long before cannabis companies start fighting over them.”

Tom Zuber, Zuber, Lawler & Del Duca managing partner

October 2018

“Proper recordkeeping of the decision-making process — including deliberations, objections and abstentions, and memorializing consents and resolutions — is critical.”

Lauren Rudick, Hiller PC attorney

July 2018

“Admittedly, the optics of pursuing a federal criminal case against state law-compliant cannabis advertisers are not great. But (U.S. Attorney General Jeff) Sessions is clearly among the minority of Americans who believe that marijuana should continue to be prohibited, and a high-profile prosecution cannot be ruled out, particularly in a deep blue state like Massachusetts.”

Neil Austin, Foley Hoag attorney

July 2018

“Understanding the basics of fraud, identifying its red flags and being able to recognize it in your business is the first step toward reducing fraud and minimizing monetary losses.”

James Peet, Peet & Associates principal manager

June 2018

Management and Hiring

“Every employee was encouraged to take ownership of the problem in front of them.”

Helen Cho, Aloha Greens Apothecary director of strategy

March 2018

“Rather than slapping a title on somebody, it might be advantageous for organizations to think a little bit more about process development and then the position naturally evolves.”

Orlando Vidali, Arcana Inc. president

March 2018

“I take hiring to be a pretty serious endeavor. I look at where I am spending most of my time, or where I am overwhelmed in a certain area and then hire there.”

Andy Joseph, Apeks Supercritical president and CEO

March 2018

“Hire professional engineers and electrical contractors, and ensure that all work is inspected before commissioning your facility.”

Dave White, Tenmile CEO

April 2018

“Finding the right team to design your cultivation facility is essential to meeting your immediate project goals, as well as your future production targets. Not every design professional — whether it be architect, engineer or contractor — is created equal.”

Nadia Sabeh, Dr. Greenhouse owner

April 2018

“Employers must train and encourage managers to promote the zero-tolerance policy (against discrimination). The cannabis industry already suffers from the stigma of federal illegality; it’s critical that businesses remain free to advocate and navigate regulatory compliance, without the burden of gender bias, discrimination or harassment.”

Lauren Rudick, Hiller PC attorney

January 2018

“Employers are automatically liable when a manager commits unlawful harassment and takes a tangible employment action against the employee, like hiring, firing, failing to promote or an unfavorable job reassignment.”

Catharine Morisset and Alex Wheatley, Fisher Phillips attorneys

February 2018

“If you are the owner or manager of a retail store in Washington, or a medical consulting education service, you are in an incredible position of power and — to paraphrase Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Spiderman comics — with great power, comes great responsibility. Patients and consumers are relying on you to make sure budtenders are well informed. It’s up to you.”

Danielle Rosellison, Trail Blazin’ Productions co-owner

October 2018

“Every day we put in the effort to keep all levels of the company on the same page; it goes a long way and prevents all sorts of turmoil when everyone understands why things are handled the way they are.”

Helen Cho, Aloha Green Apothecary director of strategy

July 2018

“One prominent issue the cannabis industry currently faces is that many companies simply haven’t hired people with the adequate knowledge and expertise to keep them in compliance with the nuances of stringent state and federal tax rules.”

Andrew Hunzicker, Dope CFO managing partner

August 2018

Cultivation

“A lot of cold-weather operations can improve their business substantially in the winter by upgrading their heaters and by taking a look at the R-value that their greenhouse cladding provides. Making conscientious upgrades to a heating system can allow for a quick return on investment and make winter crops more profitable now and well into the future.”

Christopher Machnich, GrowSpan digital marketing manager

February 2018

“Do not push the limits of your equipment. The ratings on the equipment are the absolute maximums. A 400-amp panelboard means 400 amps! Therefore, 400 amps is the maximum amount it can handle while remaining safe in lab-testing conditions. If it runs above that limit, someone could burn themselves on the equipment, it probably won’t work properly, and it could even catch fire.”

Dave White, Tenmile CEO

April 2018

Reality

“As more states come online, competition is getting fiercer, and the race to the bottom is getting faster and dirtier.”

Amy Andrle, L’Eagle Services co-owner

October 2018

“With Prop 64, instead of having a couple hundred-thousand new millionaires in the state, we’re just going to end up with five richer billionaires. I’m not very optimistic, but I’m hopeful.”

Jon VanderClut, Frogville Farms

January 2018

“As I’ve said before, failures in this industry are not reported on nearly as much as they should be, and the ‘gold rush’ mentality is still the order of the day.”

Greg James, Marijuana Venture publisher

February 2018

“What the state probably knew, and I realized before I entered the business, is that the number of people/entities that applied for licenses (in Washington) and ultimately received them would produce far more weed than what the legal market could sell.”

Cary Falk, THC Farms owner

July 2018

“How many times do you think ‘entrepreneurism’ has been misdiagnosed as ‘manic’ or ‘bipolar’? I mean seriously: We’re up; we’re down; we’re up again; we’re down again. It’s like a rollercoaster from hell.”

Danielle Rosellison, Trail Blazin’ Productions co-owner

August 2018

“In the months and years that follow, cannabis companies will duke it out in federal court over trademark and patent rights. Other things being equal, the companies that survive those wars will dominate the post-prohibition cannabis industry.”

Tom Zuber, Zuber, Lawler & Del Duca managing partner

September 2018

“It’s going to be much harder than you think, take longer than you think and cost more than you think.”

Shannon Gray, Colorado Department of Revenue marijuana communications specialist

September 2018

Retail

“The worst thing that can happen is when a business is up 20% or down 20% (in monthly sales) and they don’t know why.”

Alyson MacMullan, Cannabis Retail Advisors co-founder

April 2018

“There are many ways to succeed in retailing. But retail failures have only one cause: financial.”

Patricia Outcalt and Richard Johnson, The Retail Owners Institute owners

April 2018

“People like to see the turnover. If you have the same thing for a while, they wonder why it’s been there so long. In their minds, turnover means you’re selling a lot, which means you’re doing well and people like to be associated with winners.”

Portia Mittons, Coughie Pot co-owner

April 2018

“Probably the most effective control is to install video cameras throughout a property, particularly over the cash registers and the cash vault, and let employees know they’re being recorded. Many security companies exist to help with that. But, to make it truly effective, you must inform the employees that if they’re caught stealing, firing will be the least of their worries, as you will seek prosecution. And do so if you catch anyone stealing; do not bluff.”

James Peet, Peet & Associates principal manager

July 2018

“If you think the only way to reduce your inventory is to run a sale or declare a buying embargo, guess again. There are less drastic ways to get your inventory under control again.”

Patricia Outcalt and Richard Johnson, The Retail Owners Institute owners

September 2018

“(The inspection process is) going to be the highest and most brain-damaging part of that final construction phase. Your home run is getting that certificate of occupancy.”

Brett Roper, Medicine Man CEO

January 2018

“There are a lot of people saying brick and mortar is dying, and I don’t believe that at all. I think it’s excelling and the people who understand it’s excelling are the people who understand it’s about experience and service. It’s not about building just a pretty box.”

Chris Melillo, Curaleaf senior vice president of retail

November 2018

“Consumers shop by price. Yes, there’s room for high-priced, artisan pot — just as there are markets for high-end beer, wine and cigars. However, just as 90% of wines are sold in the $10 to $15 price point, and most cigars are priced at $10 to $20, about 90% of marijuana consumers just want the best bud for $5 to $10 a gram.”

Greg James, Marijuana Venture publisher

July 2018

Science

“More science equals more facts, which equals legitimacy and transparency for an industry that needs both.”

C.J. Schwartz, Sunrise Genetics CEO

July 2018

“A lot of the myths that have been surrounding this space for a long time are going to get dispelled and I’m really excited about that. People still talk about (indica-sativa nomenclature) like it’s gospel. But it’s fiction; it’s flat Earth.”

Kelly Ogilvie, Deepcell Industries CEO

June 2018

“Some of the stuff online is very much word of mouth — not quite an old wives’ tale — but there’s a lot of information that isn’t validated by good research. Some of the (pest management techniques) I see out there don’t seem like they could do anything.”

Joshua Vlach, Oregon Department of Agriculture entomologist

April 2018

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